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What is a garden room and how to choose one?

A garden room or a summerhouse is a small building, separate from the main house and other constructions. It’s called a garden room because it’s usually situated behind the main building, where a proverbial garden would be. This summerhouse can serve a variety of purposes, from a tool shed to a luxury summer dining area. And depending on its function, there are many choices of garden rooms available, from pre-manufactured glulam small houses to elaborate made to measure summer houses.

Garden rooms, independent of their purpose, are a cost-effective way to add more living surface to your home. Instead of planning and executing a house extension, it’s a relatively hassle-free experience. Especially if you’re considering a prefab glue laminated (glulam) timber garden rooms. They can be assembled on site by professionals and there’s a variety of styles to choose from.

But even if you’re considering an elaborate, bespoke summerhouse, the following aspects to consider are the same for everyone:

  1. Purpose & size

Determine the purpose of your garden room. Is it going to be a home office? A home gym? Or perhaps a cinema room or a game room? Or maybe it’s a little safe place for your kids to play in. Or even more – a dining room for the entire family to enjoy when weather gets cooler in autumn. Whatever the purpose, it will directly impact the size, shape and complexity of your summerhouse.

If you’re looking for a home office or just a little nook to get away and enjoy your activity, a simple prefab garden room will do. Just make sure it has large windows to catch as much light as possible, as well as show off the garden view.

If, however, you’re looking for a garden room dedicated to a specific activity, you might need a bespoke summer house solution. If it’s a cinema room, you will surely need at least one, clean white wall to project the movie on. If it’s a kids playroom, you might need to think about rounding the edges and pick a more spherical solution. A home gym would require a bit more space than usual to fit all of the equipment.

2. Location & legal aspects

While we discussed briefly the location of the garden room being, well, the back garden, there are a few more things to consider when choosing a location within the garden.

First off, decide how far away from the main house the garden room should be. Do you want it more secluded, perhaps settled into a nook between lush bushes or trees? Or perhaps you want it close to home, accessible to your family and guests? And if it’s a garden room with a specific purpose of a gym or a cinema, it’s more imperative to place it in a very accessible spot.

When deciding your garden room location, also keep in mind the legal aspects of building such a structure. In most states and countries, you should not face any legal trouble building a garden room on your own land. However, these are several aspects to watch out for:

  • Garden rooms have to be single storey, with maximum overall height of 4m.
  • They must occupy no more than half of your land space.
  • Garden rooms shouldn’t have balconies, verandas or other raised platforms.
  • They must not be used as a home.

If you’re planning your garden room to be more of a secondary home or it’s built for someone to live in it, you should consult your municipal development office to advise you on necessary permits. Also, if you’re planning your garden room to be rather an extension to your house or significantly bigger in size, consult your municipality as well.

3. Maintenance

Maintaining your garden room is important. To make it easier on yourself, make sure to design it with the base in mind. Leave space for air to breathe through the ground of your garden room, to prevent rot and mould building up. That usually happens when moisture accumulates in small crannies. This can be avoided by solving the air circulation issue.

Other than that, make sure to give your summerhouse a protective coat of paint every two to three years. This will stop the colour from washing out and protect planks from water damage.

4. Amenities

Depending on the purpose of your garden room, different amenities and construction aspects need to be considered. First off, connection to electricity grid. You will want to light up your summerhouse inside and out to use it further into the night. Also, if the summer turns out to be cooler, you might want to consider an electrical heating unit.

Water access might also be a factor. If you’re using your garden room as a shed for your gardening tools, you might want access to a hose as well. Alternatively, if you’re using the summerhouse as a dining room, a kitchenette with running water might be a comfortable addition to the outside BBQ.

It might seem a lot of planning for a simple garden room, but trust us: the more heart and mind you put into it now, the longer your garden room will serve you. Make sure to consult the builders before you order a garden room and plan out the construction site well. You will have your little retreat for a long time. Good luck!


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